Prospect Marte suffers broken left hand
Outfielder will visit hand specialist, have surgery Tuesday
PHILADELPHIA -- Pirates outfield prospect Starling Marte was diagnosed with a fractured left hamate bone during a visit to a hand specialist Monday and will undergo surgery on the hand Tuesday. The procedure will involve removing the hook of the hamate bone.
Marte, whom Baseball America listed as the organization's sixth-best prospect heading into 2010, is expected to miss 8-10 weeks recovering from the procedure. That timetable would have him ready to return for the final month of the Minor League season.
The good news for Marte is that most players who suffer broken hamates go on to have a full recovery, even if it takes a little time for the power and timing to all return to pre-injury levels. The Pirates don't have to look far for an example of that, as Pedro Alvarez broke his hamate bone and underwent the same procedure in 2008. Alvarez, the organization's top prospect, has had no issues since.
Marte, 21, played in 26 games for high Class A Bradenton (Fla.) this season before the injury sidelined him. He hit .283 with eight extra-base hits, nine stolen bases and 12 RBIs. He spent most of last season with the organization's low Class A West Virginia club, where the outfielder hit .312 and swiped 24 bases.
He was signed out of the Dominican Republic at the age of 18 and was rated by Baseball America as having the best outfield arm in the organization.
Righty McCutchen on DL with arm fatigue
PHILADELPHIA -- Starter Daniel McCutchen has been placed on the Minor League disabled list with right arm fatigue. McCutchen, who started the season in the Pirates' rotation, is expected to miss only one or two starts because of the injury.
The arm issue surfaced after McCutchen was knocked around in his start Saturday. The right-hander gave up seven runs on 12 hits in six innings. Since being demoted to Triple-A in late April, McCutchen has allowed 13 earned runs and 30 hits in 24 1/3 innings.
Other Minor League items of interest:
Double-A right-hander Jared Hughes was named the Eastern League's Pitcher of the Week after going 2-0 and allowing one earned run in 14 innings last week. Hughes, a fourth-round pick in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft, entered Monday leading all Minor League pitchers with seven wins.
Top pitching prospect Brad Lincoln retired the first 16 batters in his outing for Triple-A Indianapolis on Monday, but took the loss after giving up a three-run homer. Lincoln allowed just those three runs in seven innings. He finished with a career-high 10 strikeouts.
The Pirates have promoted right-hander Hunter Strickland to high Class A Bradenton (Fla)., where he will take the rotation spot left vacant when Bryan Morris was promoted to Double-A on Sunday. Strickland, whom the organization acquired from the Red Sox in exchange for Adam LaRoche last year, had allowed 28 earned runs in 43 innings with low Class A West Virginia this year.
Victor Black has been placed on West Virginia's roster and is cleared to begin his season. Black, whom the Pirates drafted as a first-round supplemental Draft pick last June, tweaked his lat muscle in Spring Training and has been sidelined since.
Pearce making impression defensively
PHILADELPHIA -- It may have been Steve Pearce's bat that earned him a big league promotion earlier this month, but the Pirates' first baseman has made just as good of an impression with his defensive play.
Pearce was widely considered to be an average defensive first baseman coming up through the system, and until recently, he had to split much of his time working both as a first baseman and an outfielder. Now that most of Pearce's practice is coming at first, he is showing that he is certainly not a liability in the field.
"Much better," manager John Russell said of Pearce's defense improvements. "He worked really hard. He came into Spring Training with a very good attitude. He made a lot of improvements last year in Spring Training. He's turned himself into a very good first baseman."
Pearce made the highlight reel Sunday when he extended over the visitors' dugout railing to catch a foul ball. Even still, the tougher play might have been the one he had to make two hitters later when Kosuke Fukudome hit a chopper that bounced not far in front of Pearce and high into his chest. Pearce made the backhanded grab and beat Fukudome to the bag.
Pearce, who has made five starts at first since being called up May 4, has also made several lengthy stretches to get outs on bang-bang plays at first.
"You've got to have a complete game," Pearce said. "I can't just have the offense. I have to have the defense. I think I've learned to separate the two, and I'm working hard on it every day."
Reliever Brendan Donnelly is scheduled to throw a simulated game at Citizens Bank Park on Tuesday afternoon. Donnelly, who is recovering from a left oblique strain, has already had two side sessions on this road trip. If all goes well for the right-hander on Tuesday, he will be reevaluated on Wednesday and will come off the disabled list during the homestand. ... Second baseman Aki Iwamura participated in extra hitting practice Monday, but he remains sidelined with tightness in his right hamstring. Iwamura can pinch-hit, if needed, but still feels discomfort doing any sort of movement. ... The Pirates have extended their "You score as the Bucs score" promotion due to high demand. The limited number of $7 tickets for the May 21-23 series against the Braves sold out so quickly that the Bucs have made additional tickets available for the $7 promotional price. Until the tickets run out, the outfield seats can be purchased at www.pirates.com/howmanyruns.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.